herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Killer must serve every minute of his sentence

LIFE: Michael McAleavey's murder of three army colleagues shocked the nation, but his lengthy sentence is the only deterrent to such brutal acts

DISGRACED Army private Michael McAleavey was convicted of the murder of three of his Army colleagues at a court martial in the Curragh Camp in 1983 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In a full military court martial that lasted almost a month, McAleavey was found guilty of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

McAleavey was one of the most evil and vicious killers that I had ever met.

In an event, unparalleled in the proud history of the Irish Army, he committed an act of wanton savagery in murdering three of his own unit -- all young men with bright futures ahead of them.

He has never shown, right up to the present day, any remorse whatsoever for his outrageous crime and he appears to be mindless to the grief, pain and suffering that he has inflicted on the families of his unfortunate victims, who were doing their job as brave peacekeepers when gunned down in cold blood.

TRANSFER

Last year, having served 25 years in prison in the Republic, he succeeded in getting a transfer to serve the remainder of his sentence close to his home in Northern Ireland.

Knowing his cunning and callous mind, he probably thought it was a good move that would see him get early release.

Thankfully he miscalculated this to a huge extent.

In a 10-page judgment outlined last Thursday, it emerged that McAleavey will have to serve a minimum of 27 years before being considered for release.

The tariff was set by the North's Lord Chief Justice, Brian Kerr, in a ruling given to the the Parole Commissioners.

The minimum tariff is three-years less than that set at the court martial in 1993 of McAleavey, who is now aged 47.

The tariff will run from the date of his arrest in 1982 -- and is due to expire next year.

However, it is three-years more than Justice Kerr provisionally indicated when McAleavey first sought his prison transfer to Northern Ireland.

McAleavey has served 26 years for the murders of Corporal Gregory Morrow and Privates Peter Burke and Thomas Murphy in October 1982 at Tibnin in the Lebanon.

The tariff will not automatically see McAleavy released next year and Justice Kerr indicated he was not "convinced" of McAleavey's remorse for the murders.

McAleavey was a member of a company of the 52nd Infantory Battallion based at Cathal Brugha Barracks.

On Wednesday, October 28, at Tibnin Bridge Checkpoint 6.23A, the 21-year-old was on duty with three of his colleagues, Cpl Gregory Morrow (19), Pte Thomas Murphy (19) and Pt Peter Burke (20).

In an act that will live in the annals of infamy and the records of the Irish Army forever, he shot dead his three colleagues in the most brutal and savage fashion that almost defied belief, and in my opinion, will never be fully understood or explained.

In a mad orgy of shooting, using his FN rifle, he put four shots in Cpl Morrow, eight bullets in Pte Thomas Murphy and then six bullets in Pte Peter Burke.

And then, in an act of mindless ferocity, he shot them again at point blank range in the head.

To cover up the killing he tried to claim that all three soldiers had been killed by an armed faction.

He got on his walkie-talkie and spoke to the battallion headquarters in Tibnin. His voice crackling over the airwaves, a frantic and excited McAleavey said: "We've been hit, we've been hit. Christ there's blood all over the place."

When his unit responded to his desperate call, they found him holding up a car with two occupants.

GUNPOINT

He had two men at gunpoint and was waving like a lunatic that they had killed his colleagues. He was disarmed by the captain and the crew upon their arrival.

When his colleagues arrived at the scene, it was one of carnage and confusion. There were three Irish soldiers lying dead on the ground and McAleavey ranting and raving like a mad man, waving his rifle around and shouting at the entirely innocent occupants of the car that they had killed his colleagues.

Because of his mental state, he was immediately disarmed by the other officers.

But he then attempted to grab a rifle from one of his colleagues to shoot the two civilians.

Subsequently, it was established that the car's occupants were two completely-innocent civilians. With the suspicions of his involvement growing stronger, he was interviewed by army personnel and UN investigators who became convinced that McAleavey was indeed a killer.

WEAPON

Ballistics evidence pointed irrefutably to the fact that McAleavey fired the fatal shots from his own weapon.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, he kept to his original version that they had been attacked by armed insurgents.

In January 1983 I was among a complement of senior detectives who travelled to Tibnin in the Lebanon to interview McAleavy.

We interviewed him and he subsequently made a lengthy statement admitting he was the assassin.

During the course of being interviewed by myself and a colleague he pretended to go mad and, at one stage, he was crawling around on all fours and howling that he was a werewolf. However, his ploy of feigned insanity did not succeed and we brought him back to face justice.

The people of this country, especially after the recent orgy of murder and deadly gangland feuds, are sick and tired of seeing killers walk free having served a derisory number of years in many cases for their appalling crimes.

I'm convinced that the reason we have this spate of murder and killings is that there is no real deterrent for the more serious crime in our Statute books -- the taking of another human life.

I'm convinced that Michael McAleavey is still a highly-dangerous individual, without a vestige of remorse or pity, and should be let rot behind the bars, like other convicted killers. I believe they should serve a minimum of 30 years before they are even considered for parole.

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